From Hell – Rating 3 out of 5

"It is 1888 in London, and the unfortunate poor lead horrifying lives in the city’s deadliest slum, Whitechapel. Harassed by gangs and forced to walk the streets for a living, Mary Kelly and her small group of companions trudge on through this daily misery, their only consolation being that things can’t get any worse. Yet things somehow do when their friend Ann is kidnapped and they are drawn into a conspiracy with links higher up than they could possibly imagine. The kidnapping is soon followed by the gruesome murder of another woman, Polly, and it becomes apparent that they are being hunted down, one by one. Sinister even by Whitechapel standards, the murder grabs the attention of Inspector Fred Abberline, a brilliant yet troubled man whose police work is often aided by his psychic abilities. Abberline becomes deeply involved with the case, which takes on personal meaning to him when he and Mary begin to fall in love. But as he gets closer to the truth Whitechapel becomes more and more dangerous for Abberline, Mary, and the other girls. Whoever is responsible for the grisly acts is not going to give up his secret without a fight….will they be able to survive the avenging force that has been sent after them from hell?"

A dark tale of a cover-up regarding an illegitimate marriage and a royal scandal that all centers around a group of prostitutes who are witness to the deeds. And who do you get to come to your aid when you are high society and want to keep things discreet? That’s right, the Mason’s.

An interesting theory on the murders of Jack the Ripper. Johnny Depp plays Inspector Abberline who spends a great deal of the movie in the opium dens and drinking Absinthe. Perhaps he’s looking for clues in the spirit world…

Some gruesome scenes and some interesting medical practices going on during this time in history. Abberline tries to get to the bottom of the murders while others are simply trying to wash them away. Abberline is still trying to do his job even though the victims are just prostitutes. And though his closeness be begins to fall for Mary and wants to get her out of this life and keep her away from the Ripper.

It’s a fitting atmosphere for the film, being dark and dirty as Whitechapel would have been. Is the film conjecture or does it have any root in the facts? It’s hard to say, but it certainly makes for an interesting story. It’s dark and it’s dirty and it kinda bloody, but overall it’s probably one you’ll watch more than once.

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Secret Window – Rating 3 out of 5

Secret Window – Rating 3 out of 5

“Johnny Depp gets high off another acting challenge in this tricky adaptation of a Stephen King yarn. Although the mood is too sinister to allow for the mischief of his Pirates of the Caribbean turn, Depp still manages to embroider his role here with plenty of quirky business. He plays a writer, depressed and nearly divorced, who’s stuck in an isolated cabin (shades of The Shining) when a stranger (John Turturro) arrives, accusing him of plagiarism. Writer-director David Koepp (Stir of Echoes) does his best to make the rickety material compelling–he gets the maximum out of the cabin set, for instance–but the problems inherent in the King story eventually win out. The climactic scenes are particularly unpleasant, especially in contrast to the cleverness of Depp’s performance. A Philip Glass score adds class, but this one ultimately feels like a disappointment.”

There is plenty to like about this movie and the main part is Johnny Depp. He plays a writer who is on the verge of divorce and gets away from it all to try and work on his next great work. He seems to be having some trouble finding his muse since he spends plenty of time sleeping on the couch.

Depp plays the part of the disheveled and disorganized writer quite well. But as he shuns showering as he communes with nature he gets a strange visitor who claims Mr. Rainey (Depp) has stolen his story. He wants payback for having his story ideas taken away and used for profit. Rainey denies the claim and shrugs off the visits. Soon, Mr. Shooter becomes more forceful with his demands and explains he will get to the truth and expose Rainey. Rainey says he can prove the story is his and tries to dig up an old magazine with the original story.

Evil deeds begin to happen as Shooter tries to force Rainey to confess, dog’s die, people around him die and his divorce really goes off the rails.

Johnny Depp does a great job of being creepy. Like I said, perhaps the lack of showering enhances the image. The movie is a little quirky and has some plot holes, but if you play along it’s a fun movie. There is no great mystery to be solved here or some deep meaning to undercover, everything is pretty straight forward.

There blood and gore are kept pretty light which is good since we are dealing with a psychological thriller. It works pretty well and it’s a fun little yarn. The ending is a little overly cheesy but you go with what you have.

Not a bad adaptation from Stephen King, but since this is one of at least three movies about writer’s stuck in isolation (The Shining, 1408 and this, it might be time to pick a new theme. We all get it, don’t go out into the middle of nowhere and write a novel, that’s how people get hurt…)

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Disturbia – Rating 3 out of 5

Disturbia – Rating 3 out of 5

“Alfred Hitchcock fans may experience déjà vu upon exposure to this voyeuristic thriller. That’s because director DJ Caruso (The Salton Sea) and co-writer Carl Ellsworth (Red Eye) use Rear Window as a jumping-off point before cherry-picking from more recent scare fare, like The Blair Witch Project. In the prologue, 17-year-old Kale (Shia LaBeouf, Holes) loses his beloved father to a car crash. A year passes, and he’s still on edge. When a teacher makes a careless remark about his dad, Kale punches him out, and is sentenced to house arrest. After his mom (Carrie-Anne Moss, Memento) takes away his Xbox and iTunes privileges, the suburban slacker spies on his neighbors to pass the time. In the process, he develops a crush on Ashley (Sarah Roemer, The Grudge 2), the hot girl next door, and becomes convinced that another, the soft-spoken Mr. Turner (David Morse, The Green Mile), is a serial killer. With the help of the flirtatious Ashley, practical joke-playing pal Ronnie (Aaron Yoo), and an array of high-tech gadgets, like cell-phone cameras and digital camcorders, Kale sets out to solve a major case without leaving his yard (a feat that would prove more challenging for a less affluent sleuth). In the end, it’s pretty familiar stuff, but there are plenty of scares once Turner realizes he’s being watched, and rising star LaBeouf, who next appears in Michael Bay’s Transformers, makes for an engaging leading man–despite his character’s propensity for slugging Spanish instructors.”

Interesting premise and some promising make this a pretty decent late night movie to watch. Actually the best part of the movie is the comic antics of Ronnie (Aaron Yoo). He adds some comedic life that balances the completely unnecessary and overdone relationship Kale develops with Ashley. The relationship angle is fine, but the way it’s done slows down the movie. Considering she is never becomes the damsel in distress it seems a little much.

Things really do pick up once Mr. Turner gets on the scene. David Morse does a great job of playing the misleading neighbor who seems to be just one step ahead of everyone.

It’s not really a thriller since we know Mr. Turner is guilty the whole way through. Not too much tension is built up since the movie follows a pretty predictable pattern. It would have been a better angle to try and build Kale up to be paranoid by being cooped up in the house all the time and seeing things that really aren’t there. There is a small amount of this, but it could have made the movie much more entertaining for Kale to be the only one who sees the danger.

It’s an entertaining movie with some plenty of creeps coming from Mr. Turner as he acts perfectly calm and rational and has an explanation for everything Kale has seen. He doesn’t get rattled and keeps his wits about him. The final “showdown” isn’t too bad and has a few jumps in store.

Overall not a bad movie, certainly nothing to keep you up at night, but still fun.

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The Others (2001) – Ranking 4 out of 5

The Others (2001) – Ranking 4 out of 5

A welcome throwback to the spooky traditions of Jack Clayton’s The Innocents and Robert Wise’s The Haunting, Alejandro Amenábar’s The Others favors atmosphere, sound, and suggestion over flashy special effects. Set in 1945 on a fog-enshrouded island off the British coast, the film begins with a scream as Grace (Nicole Kidman) awakens from some unspoken horror, perhaps arising from her religiously overprotective concern for her young children, Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley). The children are hypersensitive to light and have lived in a musty manor with curtains and shutters perpetually drawn. With Grace’s husband presumably lost at war, this ominous setting perfectly accommodates a sense of dreaded expectation, escalating when three strangers arrive in response to Grace’s yet-unposted request for domestic help. Led by housekeeper Mrs. Mills (Fionnula Flanagan), this mysterious trio is as closely tied to the house’s history as Grace’s family is–as are the past occupants seen posthumously posed in a long-forgotten photo album.

With her justly acclaimed performance, Kidman maintains an emotional intensity that fuels the film’s supernatural underpinnings. And while Amenábar’s pacing is deliberately slow, it befits the tone of penetrating anxiety, leading to a twist that extends the story’s reach from beyond the grave. Amenábar unveiled a similarly effective twist in his Spanish thriller Open Your Eyes (remade by Cameron Crowe as Vanilla Sky), but where that film drew debate, The Others is finely crafted to provoke well-earned goose bumps and chills down the spine.

If you’re only a fan of the slasher horror flicks (Saw, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th) then this movie isn’t for you. However if you also like to indulge in atmospheric movies like The Sixth Sense or The Exorcism of Emily Rose then there is plenty to love in this movie.

Slow, dark and suspenseful, The Others slowly moves along building a story of a mother’s attempt to maintain her family on her own during the war. Her children are hypersensitive to light so the curtains must be drawn at all time keeping everything hidden in the dark.

Three strangers come to help take care of the house and the children, but they seem to know a lot more than they tell. They arrive before the request for servants help is even posted.

As we move along we get the sense that the pressure of losing her husband and taking care of the children on her own may be stressing mom to the breaking point. The children clue us in with “It’s happening again” or “What if she does it again” kind of phrases that lead us to believe mom may be starting to lose her grip. We can certainly see the tension building as she becomes increasingly short and terse with the children and the staff.

By the end we’re not sure who we should be afraid of. Has mom begun to lose her sanity? Have the new arrivals something sinister in mind to perhaps take over the house for themselves? Did they do something to the previous owners since they know so much about them?

The end of the movies presents a unique twist, but makes the movie all the more intriguing. The ending cinches the movie as one you need to see a second time to pick up all the clues. It’s a gloomy an atmospheric movie that has great acting, wonderful fog covered scenes and takes you on a slow journey of suspense. No gore, no blood, no crazed villains with chainsaws, just a dark and mysterious tale worth watching.

The Others – $12.49

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